Today is the first anniversary of this blahg. As I strolled to the library this afternoon, I attempted to compose a commemorative essay, but every angle I thought up was so boring that I drifted back to contemplating…
…well, when human beings adopted behaviors that led them away from the nomadic hunter-gatherer life that the species had managed to make work so very well in environments ranging from the Arctic north to the Namibian desert, from tropical maritime shores to high-elevation mountain life in multiple continents.
For the most part, purist archaeologists shy away from thinking about the psychological component of the human past—for one big obvious reason: the evidence is scanty and indirect at best (a criticism common to both the processualist and post-processualist paradigms). However, I cannot think about groups of people changing their subsistence patterns (including eating different food and in different ways), changing their priorities, and changing so much else about their lives and what they do on a daily basis, without wondering about the mental component.
Mentioning this in some circles is tantamount to dropping a proverbial bombshell—one that isn’t Marilyn Monroe!
So, since I’m willing to tread these waters, lemme finish the thought. What was the motivation for the change? In a nutshell, I keep coming back to lust. In myriad forms. Just think of the so-called seven deadly sins: lust (originally extravagance), pride, coveting or wrath, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth—right?). The first four unequivocally correlate to the tendency I’m thinking of, and the others can dovetail with it.
A psychological bent in this direction means increased interest in obtaining things one didn’t previously have, doing things that impress others, etc., leading to increased sociopolitical interactions, a transformed political economy, significant changes to ideology, and, poof, you can see changes that would underlie the shift to life in settled villages. At least I do….